Believe In Bunnies

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Believe Purpose

Hoppy Father’s Day!

In honor of my amazing father and uncles, enjoy this Father’s Day story that I wrote for you (and them) in 2016.

I am named after my father.  I joke that he wanted a boy… or that he’s narcissistic (baby me was going to be Dennis or Denise).  We had the typical ups and downs that a young girl, an only child at that, and her protective father would have at all of the appropriate times.  Now, we are definitely buddies.  I know how he’s going to react, down to the expletive punctuation to his sentences.  Our connection is strong and I treasure that.  We do have our moments—he’s a Leo and I’m an Aries, both fire signs—but I have never doubted for a split-second that that man has my back 100%.   And I’m damn lucky.

And funny enough, he used to call me “bunny” when I was little.  It’s like my story was already written…

 

My uncle, with whom I share a birthday, and his other half have always been big brother/father figures to me as well.  So many great men who raised me, it’s no wonder that the bunny-daddy is a damn good guy.  I couldn’t have ended up with any other kind of person.  Much like my father and uncles, the bunny-daddy is giving and respectful.  The bunny-daddy puts his children first, as my father and uncles continue to put me first, even after 34 years (helps that I have no competition in the form of siblings or cousins).

Once I did “the work” on myself and got my self-worth in line, I ready for that higher-level of love and care to come into my life.  And I fully thank the men who raised me for showing me, never just telling me, how truly precious, deserving and worthy I was and always will be.  With their support, their example, I’ve welcomed and embraced true bliss into my life.

Like begets like.  Love begets love.  Hoppy Father’s Day.

If you didn’t/don’t have role-model-worthy men in your life, you can borrow mine.  But give them back.  I need them.

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Believe Bunnies Coaching Energy Purpose

Instinct & Acceptance

My coach’s coach says, “Your spiritual DNA is perfect.” He’s talking about you. And you. And every being.

On that note, I’m thinking about instinct and acceptance.

When Tater Tot was alive, he loved to snuggle, to dill eat and to rip up the living room carpet. He would tear out the fibers one by one, leaving a neat pile of carpet adjacent to a hole, like his wild relatives must do to grass and plants. Thankfully, Tater did not ingest those fibers. Thankfully, our landlord did not charge us to replace the carpet when we moved out, although it certainly needed to be ripped up (finish Tater’s job!) and replaced.

One of his smaller projects

Our little Tater Tot did not tear holes of various shapes and sizes in our brown and tan carpet to misbehave. He wasn’t trying to ruin or even redecorate our living room. He was operating on instinct, flowing from his perfect spiritual DNA.

Occasionally frustrated and always amazed at how he would find the one place we didn’t cover with cardboard or at just how much he could dig and tear in the 15 seconds I left the room, I found acceptance at our little guy’s instinct. He was operating in the way he was programmed. I’m sure he would have preferred some herbs to tear and eat. He accepted the carpet as the best his environment would provide for him. I accepted that his instinct was perfect. Sure, we tried to recondition him with lots of toys, a dig box, blankets… but little man just needed to rip up carpet.

And so it goes.

Interestingly, when we moved to our current home, Tater Tot did not rip one fiber out of the new rug. The couch, however, became the target. He began to chew a hole in the back corner of the couch, a legacy project his brother Peanut has continued.

Legacy Project

Our companion animals are unapologetically themselves. Their design, although different from ours, is still perfect. They are driven by instinct. How many times have you ignored “your gut” when it turns out that you knew what to do all along? How many times have you changed an answer on a test, hesitated at an opportunity, sensed that you shouldn’t make a turn… then ignored that knowing, that urge, that nagging? And now you look back…

You can’t change your past decisions but you can decide today to accept your instinct as truth. Channel your inner Tater Tot… just be prepared to replace the rug.

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Believe Bunnies Purpose

Mother’s Day Tribute

Hoppy Mother’s Day! Enjoy this classic Mother’s Day story from the Believe In Bunnies archives…

My mother never let me have pets other than betta fish.  My betta Bonus lived 5 or 6 years and traveled back and forth from Connecticut to home on every college break.  I was never much of an animal person anyway.  After college, but still living home, I asked if I could get a rabbit.  For no known reason, I decided I wanted one.  Mom said no.  She said, when you have your own house, you can have whatever you want.

I never, and I mean never, have wanted human children.  When certain people hear that, they flick back with trite retorts like, “You will someday” and “You’ll change your mind when you’re with the right person.”  Mmm hmmmm.  Socrates said, “Know thyself” and I always have when it comes to this topic.  And I know human children are not for me.  When I met my “right person,” it was maybe our second or third date when the topic of pet rabbits came up.  We both wanted one yet never had one.  So, in my own way I guess, I did become a mother when I met the right person.

To me, being a mom or serving in any loving role is about spiritual connection.  The labels of mother, father, grandchild, uncle, what-have-you are all human constructs.  On the level of the soul, in our truth, the labels don’t exist.  Love is love.  Care is care.  Compassion is compassion.  Connection is connection.

Judge all you want, but my love for my boys Peanut and Tater Tot and the love I see my fellow bunny moms, dads and volunteers give to these four-legged angels is the truth.  If you need to label it, the connection is as maternal or paternal as a human-human relationship.  Just like I don’t have the desire for human children, not everyone with a pet wants or will reach or can reach the connection.  Those are the people who indiscriminately or circumstantially give up their pets.  But that’s a topic for another day.

So Mom, thank you for not letting me have a rabbit when I wasn’t ready.  You are a phenomenal mother (obviously, look at what you made!) and you knew yourself and knew me enough to know that pet-parenting was not appropriate at that time.  When the time was right and I became a bunny-mom, you embraced your grandbunnies more than I even expected, since you aren’t necessarily an animal person.  But I know you admire and respect the love I have for my boys and the compassion I channel for all of Long Island’s domestic rabbits through rescue work.

Happy Mother’s Day, whether your children hop, bark, talk… whether they live with you, live with another family, live in a rescue or shelter… they are your children, if you feel the love and connection in your soul.

Special shout out to the foster moms out there—you are love.

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angels Energy Purpose

My Chosen Godmother

I call her my godmother but she didn’t hold me as a baby while a priest blessed me. There’s just no better term that I’m familiar with to explain who she is to me. So, almost 10 years ago, I asked Kathy to be my godmother (with all due respect to the one my parents chose for me in 1982) and Kathy immediately said yes—makes sense, because she’d been assuming the role for a while and will be forever.

I met Kathy’s oldest son when I was in 7th grade. He was one of the cool, older boys that was friends with my temporary best friend’s older brother. We hung out in similar circles throughout junior high and high school, peripherally acquainted. After I graduated college and moved back to New York, he and I started hanging out a lot. I met his mom and his younger brother. The bond those three have… it’s hard to put words to. They are love. They are family. And they scoop you right into the family.

I’ve spent many, many hours sitting at their kitchen table. We have inside jokes that have been running for almost two decades, clipped from little moments of joy, often with cards or Scrabble tiles in our hands.

When I was betrayed by a “friend,” I ran to her. When my heart was stomped on, I leaned on her. And I know there are dozens of people who can share similar stories about Kathy. As special as she makes me feel, I’m not “special”—she cares for everyone she meets this deeply. Just don’t do wrong by one of her sons!

Last night, we sat around that white and light wood kitchen table and laughed until our bellies hurt. That’s pretty much a guarantee when we get together. Outside of my immediate blood-related family, I can’t think of any other people as loving and loyal as Kathy and her sons. I’m glad they inherited that from her. I’m grateful for all of the love she continues to pour into our connection and, of course, to the universe for sending my godmother (and her family) to me.

Who’s your Kathy? Call her/him today or connect with them in some way. Share your gratitude. Much love.

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Believe Bunnies Healing Purpose Rescue

Paddington

For everyone celebrating something today, I wish you and yours a happy one.

I had the honor of spending yesterday with a very special boy, local celebunny Paddington.

 

In a town in central Nassau county, about two months ago, a woman found a domestic rabbit in her yard. She was able to pick him up and bring him inside. She bought him food and cared for him the best she could for a few weeks. In the interim, and completely unrelated to Paddington’s arrival, this kind woman lost her job. She reached out to us at the Long Island Rabbit Rescue Group when she noticed she was running low on food for the rabbit she found. We coordinated a volunteer to bring food and other supplies she may need while she was fostering. We also planned to start the process of finding this rabbit a forever home.

Our volunteer went to the finder’s house that evening. She texted me shortly after she arrived there and said, “I’m taking him.” I hope she doesn’t get mad at me for sharing this… but she was crying. And this is a volunteer who works in animal rescue and rehabilitation professionally, someone who sees extremely tough stuff on a daily basis. One look at the rabbit we now know as Paddington brought her to tears… because of his ears.

Our volunteer remarked to the finder about the rabbit’s ears and the finder acknowledged that they are very short (I love and protect her innocence… she didn’t realize why). She found Paddington that way. By the time she found and saved him, his ears healed from being crudely chopped off. Sorry to hit you with such a stark reality on this Sunday, and for some holy, morning.

Paddington

In case you are wondering if this wasn’t a result of human cruelty… in Rescue we seeing plenty of ear injuries caused by other animals, endured before rescue and safety. Check out Shark, for example. Then compare his ear to Paddington’s ears. This is what moved our volunteer to tears and to take him with her. The finder was very grateful as she was struggling to care for the rabbit she found.

Despite the trauma he endured, Paddington settled in quickly and comfortably at his foster home. When I put out the call for a spokesbunny for an education and photo event at Pet Supplies Plus in Deer Park yesterday, Paddy’s foster mom volunteered him… and what a great choice he was! He was comfortable, even when three St. Bernard’s pounded into the store, and friendly with all of his fans. He enjoyed snuggles from store patrons and staff and even showed the Easter Bunny who is the boss!

Paddington 2

From her plans to drop off food and assess supply needs to becoming Paddington’s foster mom in a blink of time, my incredible colleague and her family have embraced this dear little one with pure love. I suspect, after Paddington’s neuter surgery tomorrow, that they just might make him an official part of their family.

LIRRG Family.

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Believe Bunnies Energy Healing Purpose Reiki Rescue Uncategorized

Friends? Friends.

It wasn’t that long ago when I had no friends. I can remember the first time I said it out loud. It felt… shameful. It felt embarrassing, even though I was saying it to the Bunny Daddy, a man I can say anything to, without judgment.

Yeah, there were people around… but I felt alone. That theme wove itself through my story over the years. I would do anything to pull in anyone, nice and close, trying to fight the feeling of loneliness… desperately trying to find acceptance.

I can look back and realize that there was no way I was going to find authentic friendships when I wasn’t being authentic with myself.

The turning point came right around the time when I said it out loud: I have no friends. That also came in a tornado of being miserable at work and having no hobbies, pastimes or things to do that brought me joy. At all. I was a literal ball of tears on our living room floor.

I cracked open and let the light flood in. I took steps, small at first, to find a sense of peace in my head. I started volunteering, not to fill the time, not even for a second considering that I would make friends that way—just volunteering to help a little rescue group with a big mission. I found that my weekly volunteer hours were times where my anxious feelings were non-existent. I found a place to let my gifts (organization being one) shine.

I started listening to myself more, giving myself that permission and honing that skill through holistic and “alternative” routes like Reiki, yoga, therapy… getting down to it. Facing and embracing what made me feel good, great and beyond. Dropping the need to fit in, to live someone else’s dream, to fit an image that felt suffocating.

As I listened to and “found” me, some darn wonderful people started to show up. I often say to them, when they compliment my growth and my courage, that I am merely a reflection of them. And I mean that they can only see and love this light in me because it is a light that shines in them too.

Last night, I celebrated by 37th birthday. The girl who had no friends is now the woman who was surrounded by 16 women, each blazing their own gorgeous, inspiring trail. I know they love me. Despite the size of the group surrounding me over the years or the length of time we were “friends,” I never knew that for sure before. But these women… they love me. And I love me.

A big cheers to the rest of the crew who couldn’t join us last night… I am utterly amazed by the quantity and the quality of friends that are in my life—all because I took (and still take) the time to find my joy and purpose. Much love.

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Believe Energy Healing meditation

She’s In There

For years, I’ve heard great things about psychic medium Paul Saladino. Yesterday, I had the honor of attending his Inner Child workshop. So. Darn. Good.

Paul started the workshop asking us to rate our childhood happiness and to assign it a color. He talked us through the different numbers and colors, “translating” numerology to inner child work and connecting the colors as symbols (the English teacher in me swoons).

I was able to pick a number right away… but oddly, the color was eluding me.

Paul talked to us about emotional ages and how blocked energies create illness. He encouraged us to be playful and nurture out inner child. How often do we get caught up in the obligations and routines, forgetting to play, even when we have little people asking us to play with them? Loosen up. Step out of the realm of acceptance.

Paul talked us through visualizing and connecting to our inner child. He shared about fears that we carry into adulthood and their origins in our childhood. He reminded us that what you had as a child will follow you your whole life until you do the work to release it. And that’s what we were there to do, or at least start doing.  Time to recognize and embrace the inner child.

Paul guided us through a meditation. When it was over, I grabbed my notebook and wrote, “I no longer seek acceptance from people who do not reciprocate love. I share love and friendship with those who align with my light. I surround myself with love.” I’m breaking the pattern. Growing up with so much unconditional love… I labeled my childhood at home a 10 in the beginning of the workshop (Paul said 10s are pretty much impossible, and I get that). Growing up in a 10 family made me expect 10s everywhere… and I sure didn’t get that outside of the happy little family unit. I’m working now to heal her disappointment.

I rely on being in control in most situations. When I’m in control, I set the number. The last thing I wrote in my notebook yesterday is a paraphrase of something Paul said toward the end of our 2 hours together: Control is often a deterrent to vulnerability.

Helen Keller wrote, “A happy life consists not in the absence, but in the mastery of hardships.” Taking part in workshops like I did yesterday helps me do just that. I am grateful for people like Paul who share their gifts and wisdom and for Bella who encouraged me to join her there.

Little Denise… you’re in there. And I’m working to nurture you as much as you deserve… and you deserve it all. Much love.

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Believe Bunnies Purpose Rescue Uncategorized

Year End 2018

Our little Rescue group closed 2017 with 54 adoptions. If that wasn’t a record for us, it was close for sure. The record-keeper, the scribe, the organizer… I excel in my self-appointed roles. I set the 2018 adoption goal to 55, 2017’s accomplishments plus one.

We hit 55 in mid-June.

Long exhale… and now what? On July 2nd, I set our new 2018 goal to 79. I picked that because 4 adoptions per month is a sustainable, manageable expectation.

I sit here, less than 2 days left in 2018. We are at 88 adoptions. 88. Eighty-Eight. Wild…

Long Island Rabbit Rescue Class of 2018.jpg

We accomplished such an incredible feat because of one word: Trust.

Trust from our leadership to empower those volunteers who have stepped up into leadership roles themselves. Trust in the team. Trust from me (finally!) to delegate and watch others shine. Trust from the abandoned, abused and neglected rabbits who allow us the honor of rescuing and caring for them.

Radical honesty: I, like many of you, have been let down by people in my past who have said they were going to do things that they just didn’t do. Maybe they intended to but a limitation or limiting belief got in the way. Maybe they were giving a lot of talk to placate me. Whatever the reason, past disappointments created a paradigm for me that I have to do everything on my own, that no one can help me, that no one will show up for me or the things that mean a lot to me.

This year, I’ve started to trust more and I have no doubt that my new-found trust is rooted in the support from our Rescue team. I’ve watched dozens of people step up selflessly, doing not only what they said they would do but beyond. We are soaring because we have each other. As we soar, we save more lives and complete more families than ever before.

In Angel Numbers 101, 88 is described as “a very auspicious and favorable sign… actions, prayers, visualizations, and manifestation work have resulted in a large inflow of abundance. Open your arms and receive!” I think our Rescue group has done just that in 2018.

As we look into the future, I’m inclined to say that I don’t know how we are going to top 88… but I don’t need to know how. I just need to know why. Why we rescue is so strong that the how figures itself out on an even bigger scale than we could have imagined.

Look out for our newly-updated Rescue website in 2019! I trust that you’ll love it.

 

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Believe Energy Healing Purpose Young Living

Why. My Young Living Story.

Why… because I can’t not.

Ooooooooo the English teacher just rocked a double negative!

Because I don’t define myself as an English teacher. I am not my job. But society will try to force you into labeling and identifying as what you do.

That never sat right with me and, for years, I wouldn’t tell people my profession. It felt like one of those Halloween masks from the early 80s, the plastic ones with the uncomfortable, thin elastic band around the back and the barely-there cutouts for breathing. They don’t make those masks anymore… for a reason.

Like those masks, the school system feels stifling to me. The prospect of working at this job for 30+ years as is, following everyone else’s way, put a literal lump in my throat and a clawing in my stomach. Try feeling like that every day. Maybe you already do…

I needed something else, something different. But I didn’t have a clue what or how.

I could resign myself to keep at what I was doing and consequently feeling how I was feeling or I could make a change. I didn’t think I could or should change my job. I decided I could and would change myself.

I remembered how much better I felt physically and mentally when I practiced yoga after graduating from college so I found a yoga studio near our house. There, I met my acupuncturist. During our sessions, she used Young Living oils. I was feeling more and more peace with every healing I experienced.

I couldn’t take those needles home but I could take those little brown bottles with the colorful labels home. I ordered a Premium Starter Kit. I enrolled in Essential Rewards the next day. I ordered a kit for my father the next day. I was all in.

The more at peace I felt, the more energy I had, the more people began to ask what changed. There was no missing and no denying that I’d shifted.

I shared about the oils and products just like I would share about a delicious new restaurant I found or a hilarious new show I stumbled across. Some friends wanted what I had. I was in business.

From this business, I’ve found community. I found people who are authentic. I can say, without hesitation, that I am happy. Happy… a simple word for a multi-faceted concept. If I, a woman who was in physical pain from emotional conditions, could feel happy, vibrant, powerful… how could I keep that from people?

I share Young Living because it led me to feeling free, free from the pressures placed on me by a system that doesn’t serve me, from pressures that I placed upon myself to be the best to have the best and to never take off the mask of achievement. Like I mentioned earlier, those stifling plastic Halloween masks have been banned and are long-forgotten. Through the community of wellness, purpose and abundance that I found in Young Living, I learned to take off my metaphorical mask and to breathe in the real me, a real space in this world to grow and flourish. Today, my mask is off and I face the world, and myself, with authentic happiness.

I want to see you with a smile on your face that rivals the one on mine right now. Believe in your happiness.

Come with us.

You are worthy.

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Believe Bunnies Purpose Rescue

Same Old Story

For the longest time, I wouldn’t tell people I was a teacher. There were just some things about the job (or at least how I was doing the job) that didn’t align with whom I feel I am. Now that I’ve committed to daily personal development, I proudly say I’m a teacher. The job didn’t change; I did.

In most settings when I meet new people, I don’t mention that I am an animal rescuer. On the completely opposite side of why I used to run away from the label of teacher, I hide rescue from “strangers” because the conversation all-too-often goes badly… like it did yesterday.

I was at an event where I met dozens of wellness-minded women and we had tons of fun trying natural skincare and makeup from Young Living. The ladies at our table started to connect and share contact information. In searching for me on social media, one of my tablemates came across the title of my blog. She looked up slowly and said, “Bunnies?” to which I said, “Yes, they are my life’s work. I help run a rabbit rescue.” Her response, “Do you want a rabbit?” Cue the lump in my throat and rage in my heart. Here we go, again.

Why… how… why does it seem like everyone I meet either has a rabbit they don’t want or has some horrifying story about a rabbit that they, their cousin or their neighbor had when they were younger? And why do people think I want to hear those stories?

This woman was very well-meaning and I knew the outline of her story before she even told it, the same story I read in emails 15 times per week (or more). Her daughter came home with a rabbit one day without discussing it with the family. Now, no one takes care of the rabbit. I assumed she was talking about a child, but no, her daughter is an adult with a child of her own. The grandchild is the one who wanted the rabbit in the first place. The daughter is the one who purchased a living being who requires special care and lives 10-12 years without doing any research or thinking about long-term plans. They have 3 dogs at home. Daughter and grandchild are moving and don’t plan to take the rabbit. I quietly listened as I tried not to fling an all-natural face scrub across the table.

When she was done, I made a comment about the 10-12-year commitment her daughter made when getting the rabbit. The woman next to me whispered in my ear that she used to do dog rescue and sympathized. I referred her to rescue groups local to her, gave her some care tips and changed the subject as quickly as I could.

So I struggle with keeping my Rescue life quiet to strangers. I don’t want to hear this same old story from people looking to dump a rabbit. I don’t want to hear about the hutch bunny your neighbor neglected during your favorite childhood summer. I want the neglect to cease. The only way we are going to stop the abandonment and suffering is education but it seems like most (NOT all) of the people who want to rehome their rabbits are just looking to flake on a responsibility they chose. Where’s our sense of integrity? Our follow-through? Our commitment? Maybe I expect too much, in some people’s eyes. But on behalf of our fluffy, big-eared friends, my expectations will never be lowered.

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